Stairway To Heaven (for Hicks and Hillbillies)


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7 Billion People United


By the end of 2011 the world will have reached 7 billion people. The United Nations Population Fund is leading an innovative global campaign to bring awareness to the opportunities and challenges that this milestone presents. But 7 Billion people means 7 Billion hearts. Music has always been the best way to speak to the hearts of the people. Playing for Change has partnered with the United Nations to present an original song around the world to serve as an anthem for such an important time, “United”. 

We traveled across the globe, put headphones on musicians, added them to the track, and created a video that can serve as a tangible example of something positive we can all do together as a human race. 

Lets inspire each other. Lets everybody get involved and join us on in this journey, so that together we leave this world better than we found it.

To learn more about how to be part of the “United” track go to: http://7BillionActions.org.

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How to Achieve Transparency for the Supercommittee


Every campaign contribution to members of this powerful panel should be reported every single day.

By Ellen Miller

Come December, the priorities and role of our government could be drastically and fundamentally altered. Are your views and concerns being heard?

The supercommittee created in the wake of the debt ceiling clash is comprised of 12 members of Congress tasked with cutting at least $1.2 trillion from the national debt by the end of the year. Whatever combination of savings and new taxes this panel devises will be fast-tracked to the floor of both chambers, without amendments, for an immediate vote. This is an unprecedented amount of power densely concentrated in the hands of a few.

The possibility of deep cuts across the federal budget sent a rallying cry to K Street, with one lobbyist forecasting a “Holy War” between the defense and health industries. It’s a battle amongst military contractors, health insurance companies, and other special interests buying lobbying time with the lawmakers and their senior staffers via campaign contributions. The special interests that have the supercommittee’s ears are very likely the same ones that contributed more than $28 million to the panel’s dozen members since 1989, according to the non-partisan Center for Responsive Politics.

Most Americans, lacking this moneyed leverage, are left in the dark. We won’t get a chance to tell those lawmakers what to cut and what to keep.

We also can’t find out who does have that access. Current disclosure rules are a roadblock to letting us know.

You see, the supercommittee’s members report their campaign finance activities like all other lawmakers. They must report how much money they’ve taken from special interests on a quarterly basis, and they never have to report whom they’ve met with. But the panel’s work is proceeding so quickly that if they follow the old rules for reporting their fundraising, we won’t know which interests pushed their agenda until they’ve already succeeded.

The supercommittee’s unparalleled power demands that lackluster congressional transparency requirements be kicked into overdrive.

In today’s world of pay-to-play politics, expertly timed campaign contributions can open the right doors and provide access to a sympathetic ear. Campaign laws recognize the force of this cash, which is why contributions made within two weeks of an election are disclosed faster. Every member of Congress operates under these rules during an election year and knows that compliance is simple.

The supercommittee is in a similarly time-sensitive situation, where money can tip the balance of debate. While its members deliberate on crucial fiscal decisions, they should disclose campaign contributions in real time. Every contribution should be reported every single day.

Beyond the money are the meetings. Contacts between lobbyists and committee members or staff must all be disclosed online on a daily basis, including any written communications. The Obama administration already implemented these transparency requirements during the debate over the Recovery Act in 2009 and the Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act that passed last year. It’s not difficult and it’s been done before.

These decisions are too important to be left in the backrooms of Capitol Hill. Lawmakers should be required to post their meetings with lobbyists every single day. Ultimately, the nation’s lobbying laws should be changed to require lobbyists to do the same for the sake of our democracy.

Ellen Miller is the Sunlight Foundation‘s co-founder and executive director. http://www.sunlightfoundation.com

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The Bloody Benders of Labette County ~ a TRUE Ghost Story!


 I wrote this years ago for Halloween and I keep recycling it every year. This post also gets more views (from all over the world) than anything else I’ve ever written. I did quite a bit of research for this piece. I wish I had listed my sources at the time. Be assured that this story is as accurate as any you’ll find about the Benders. ~ sekanblogger

The old Bender property is haunted. A mere decade after the gruesome killings, nothing was left of the cabin and outbuildings on the property, the only thing that remained — an empty hole that had once been the cellar, has long been filled in. From these depths come the souls of those murdered on the site, wandering about the property and making moaning sounds that can be heard by any passersby. Of those most often reporting seeing glowing apparitions on the property are those who come to the site in search of some long lost souvenir of the grisly murders. Quickly, the scavengers are frightened away by the dead souls to spread their ghostly tales.

As the legend of the haunting continues, people say that Kate Bender, herself, returns to the property, doomed to roam the land where she had committed so many atrocities. Whether folklore or fact, many believe that the trapped souls of these century-old ghosts continue to lurk at the site today, looking for the cabin, well, and shallow graves they were left in. Of those who were mistaken for the Bender family, and murdered by vigilantes, they continue to roam Southeast Kansas, seeking revenge! The old Bender property is approximately 10 miles west of Parsons Kansas.

benders

 Through the Treaty of 1870, the Federal Government moved the Osage Indian tribe out of the state of Kansas completely and finally. The Osage defense of the best of their territory had become impossible, due to a flood of European immigrants. Prior to 1870, the immigrants were entirely illegal, but the State refused to accept that fact, while the Federal Government simply turned a blind eye. The Osage had been promised the land, literally “As long as the wind blows and the grass grows.” This was the actual wording in one of the treaties. However, the Osage saw the future, and had capitulated long before 1870, in heart and mind, if not in writing. One well used Osage trail led from Ft. Scott Kansas, to Independence Kansas. It was mid-point along this stretch of trail, near a mound that still bears the name “Bender’s Mound”, that our sordid story ensues.

The landmark known as "Bender's Mound"

At about the same time, and just a few miles from the now famous Ingalls family (Little House On The Prarie), a family of Germans, consisting of four persons – a man, his wife, son and daughter – moved into southeast Kansas, at Osage township. The man was known as William or John Bender, the son and daughter as John Jr. and Kate. In reality, none of them were named Bender, and the woman and daughter were the only ones actually related. Continue reading

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Filed under AMERICANA, History, Kansas, Labette County, Southeast Kansas

Antique Postcard ~ Hallowe’en 1912


From the looks of this card, Hallowe’en not only had an apostrophe,

100 years ago it does not look near as SCARY either!

halloween

halloweenback

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Dylan Ratigan (rightfully) Loses It On Air


Liberal media? HUH?

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HOLD ON


Waits has a distinctive voice, described by one critic as sounding “like it was soaked in a vat of bourbon, left hanging in the smokehouse for a few months and then taken outside and run over with a car.”

Happiness is never perfect. ~ Tom Waits

Hold On – by Tom Waits

They hung a sign up in out town
“if you live it up, you won’t live it down”
So, she left Monte Rio, son
Just like a bullet leaves a gun
With charcoal eyes and Monroe hips
She went and took that California trip
Well, the moon was gold, her
Hair like wind
She said don’t look back just
Come on Jim

Oh you got to
Hold on, Hold on
You got to hold on
Take my hand, I’m standing right here
You gotta hold on

Well, he gave her a dimestore watch
And a ring made from a spoon
Everyone is looking for someone to blame
But you share my bed, you share my name
Well, go ahead and call the cops
You don’t meet nice girls in coffee shops
She said baby, I still love you
Sometimes there’s nothin left to do

Oh you got to
Hold on, hold on
You got to hold on
Take my hand, I’m standing right here, you got to
Just hold on.

Well, God bless your crooked little heart St. Louis got the best of me
I miss your broken-china voice
How I wish you were still here with me

Well, you build it up, you wreck it down
You burn your mansion to the ground
When there’s nothing left to keep you here, when
You’re falling behind in this
Big blue world

Oh you go to
Hold on, hold on
You got to hold on
Take my hand, I’m standing right here
You got to hold on

Down by the Riverside motel,
It’s 10 below and falling
By a 99 cent store she closed her eyes
And started swaying
But it’s so hard to dance that way
When it’s cold and there’s no music
Well your old hometown is so far away
But, inside your head there’s a record
That’s playing, a song called

Hold on, hold on
You really got to hold on
Take my hand, I’m standing right here
And just hold on

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Gridlock and Bedlam


It’s scary, but I’m starting to agree with my pessimist friend.

Donald KaulBy Donald Kaul

My friend Richard is a little crazy and very smart. He spends his days filling the Internet with screeds and rants on his favorite subject — the continuing collapse of our society. I’d tell you his last name, but if you wrote him, you’d get his scary emails too.

Here’s an excerpt from a recent effort after the stock market had a bad-hair day.

“As I’ve said all along, it’s Depression II. The stock market is catching on. Dow is down 4.5 percent today. Has a long way to go (down) to get to a reasonable value considering the fundamentals…Corrupt and disintegrating governmental systems here and in England. Gridlock. Incompetence everywhere…”

Did I mention that he is an angry old man? He seems to have caught the zeitgeist, however: that vague feeling of terror caused by being at the mercy of mysterious forces we can’t control.

To scroll through a good newspaper (there are still a few) is to be confronted with one horror story after another.

If the “Arab Spring” isn’t threatening to go sour on us, the Israelis and Palestinians are making rude Italian gestures at each other in the United Nations. Every time the Greek government blows its nose, financial markets throughout the Western world get pneumonia. Pakistan’s military is preparing its country for war, quite possibly with us — even though we supply them with weapons and money. Every other month or so Congress goes to the brink of shutting down the government and with it the economy, which is already dead in the water and sinking, slowly.

In 18th-century London people used to go to Bedlam, the city’s mental institution, to amuse themselves by gawking at the insane, sometimes paying a penny for a special peek. Today we watch Republican presidential debates.

So far we have heard cheers for both executions and America’s shortage of health insurance. There have been boos for a soldier who served in Iraq because he was gay. During each of those appalling moments, no candidate raised his or her voice in protest.

We have seen Mitt Romney and Rick Perry back away from their most noble achievements as governors simply to appease the unappeasable.

We have witnessed Michele Bachmann make a fool of herself time after time with no one, apparently, noticing.

What an awful bunch. It’s like an early round of “American Idol.” I suppose Romney is the least worst of them. If elected, he’s likely to abandon his current positions as readily as he did most of his previous positions.

Barack Obama has been no great prize either. He holds his great achievements — the health care bill and the rescue of the auto industry — at arm’s length, as though he doesn’t want them to stain his suit.

The world has begun the fourth year of a financial crisis with no end in sight. Our leaders not only don’t have the answers; they don’t seem to know the questions.

I don’t agree with everything my friend Richard says, but I’m beginning to share his rising sense of panic.

OtherWords columnist Donald Kaul lives in Ann Arbor, Michigan.

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ANTIQUE POSTCARDS ~ Taft for President!


 How much has the political landscape changed in 100 years? Just some, that’s all. In fact, Taft represented the elite (1%), while his opponent claimed the common folks (the 99%). Taft was a Unitarian who never believed that Christ was divine, but apparently then politics was all money without religious pandering. The fact that Taft represented BIG MONEY would today almost assure his election, since NOW CORPORATIONS ARE PEOPLE TOO.

This is just one of the hundreds of postcards I have. Many are older than this 1908 card. ~ sekanblogger

From Wikipedia: The United States presidential election of 1908 was held on November 3, 1908. Popular incumbent PresidentTheodore Roosevelt, honoring a promise not to seek a third term, persuaded the Republican Party to nominate William Howard Taft, his close friend and Secretary of War, to become his successor. Having badly lost the 1904 election with aconservative candidate, the Democratic Party turned to two-time nominee William Jennings Bryan, who had been defeated in 1896 and 1900 by Republican William McKinley. Despite his two previous defeats, Bryan remained extremely popular among the more liberal and populist elements of the Democratic Party. Despite running a vigorous campaign against the nation’s business elite, Bryan suffered the worst loss in his three presidential campaigns, and Taft won by a comfortable margin.

taft sherman

William H. Taft (15-Sep-1857 to 8-Mar-1930) 27th US President, 1909-13

Birthplace: Cincinnati, OH Location of death: Washington, DC
Remains: Buried, Arlington National Cemetery, Arlington, VA Religion: Unitarian

James S. Sherman (James Schoolcraft Sherman: 24-Oct-1855 to 30-Oct-1912) US Vice President 1909-1912.

Birthplace: Utica, NY Location of death: Utica, NY
Remains: Buried, Forest Hill Cemetery, Utica, NY  Religion: Protestant

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BLEEDING KANSAS and Murder on the MARAIS DES CYGNES


 For many years I’ve driven by Trading Post Kansas, near the Marais Des Cygnes river (and now reservoir and wildlife refuge) without paying much attention to why it was named Trading Post. This was a trading post that was established specifically to trade with the Osage Indians. I did stop one time to read a historical marker about some murders that took place there. Now I’m a bit more interested in the history of Kansas.  This incident is also known as the MARAIS DES CYGNES MASSACRE, and the whole incident is a part of the meme of this blog. 

 The bloodiest single incident in the Kansas-Missouri border struggles, 1854-1861, occurred May 19, 1858, when 25-30 Pro-slavery Missourians seized 11 Kansas ‘Free-State’ men near Trading Post and marched them to a creek-bed nearby. The eleven men were lined up ‘execution style’ and promptly shot, apparently for no other reason than occupying land in a Free State. Five were killed and five wounded.  Weeks afterward, John Brown arrived and built a two-story log “fort”, about 14 x 18 feet, which he occupied with a few men through that summer. John had other armed and fortified encampments near the border. Ossowatamie is one location, and some reporters referred to John as “Ossowatamie Brown”. That December he led a raid into Missouri and liberated 11 slaves, killing one white man in the process.

 A Brown follower , Charles C. Hadsall, bought this property in 1858. Later, at the site of the fort, he built a stone house which still stands there today. The building and grounds are now part of a State Historical Site. This area, and some residents, were also part of the famous “underground railway”.

 The following is one of Brown’s many letters, documenting the turmoil in “Bleeding” Kansas. This letter was addressed to the Lawrence Kansas newspaper, the Lawrence Republican.

Trading Post, Kansas, Jan., 1859

Gents:–You will greatly oblige a humble friend, by allowing the use of your columns, while I briefly state two parallels, in my poor way.

Not one year ago, eleven quiet citizens of this neighborhood, viz.: Wm. Robertson, Wm. Colpetzer, Amos Hall, Austin Hall, John Campbell, Asa Snyder, Thos. Stilwell, Wm. Hairgrove, Asa Hairgrove, Patrick Ross, and B.L. Reed, were gathered up from their work and their homes, by an armed forced (sic) under one Hamilton, and without trial or opportunity to speak in their own defence, were formed into a line, and all but one shot–five killed and five wounded. One fell unharmed, pretending to be dead. All were left for dead. The only crime charged against them was that of being Free-State men. Now, I inquire, what action has ever, since the occurrence in May last, been taken by either the President of the United States, the Governor of Missouri, the Governor of Kansas, or any of their tools, or by any pro-slavery or Administration man, to ferret out and punish the perpetrators of this crime?

Now for the other parallel. On Sunday, the 19th of December, a Negro man called Jim, came over to the Osage settlement, from Missouri, and stated that he, together with his wife, two children, and another Negro man were to be sold within a day or two, and begged for help to get away. On Monday (the following) night, two small companies were made up to go to Missouri and forcibly liberate the five slaves, together with other slaves. One of these companies I assumed to direct. We proceeded to the place, surrounded the buildings, liberated the slaves, and also took certain property supposed to belong to the estate.

We however learned, before leaving, that a portion of the articles we had taken belonged to a man living on the plantation as a tenant, and who was supposed to have no interest in the estate. We promptly returned to him all we had taken. We then went to another plantation, where we freed five more slaves, took some property, and two white men. We moved all slowly away into the Territory for some distance, and then sent the white men back, telling them to follow us as soon as they chose to do so. The other company freed one female slave, took some property, and, as I am informed, killed one white man (the master) who fought against the liberation.

Now for a comparison. Eleven persons are forcibly restored to their natural and inalienable rights, with but one man killed, and all “hell is stirred, from beneath.” It is currently reported that the Governor of Missouri has made a requisition upon the Governor of Kansas for the delivery of all such as were concerned in the last named “dreadful outrage.” The Marshal of Kansas is said to be collecting a posse of Missouri (not Kansas) men, at West Point, in Missouri, a little town about ten miles distant, to “enforce the laws.” All pro-slavery, conservative Free-State and doughface men , and Administration tools, are filled with holy horror.

Consider the two cases, and the action of the Administration party.

Respectfully Yours,

John Brown

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Filed under AMERICANA, Crime, History, Human Rights, Kansas, Missouri, Native American, WAR